With the arrival of rail service in 1874, Hopewell as we know it today began to take shape. The first rail company, the Mercer and Somerset Railroad, began the boom in 1873, and was soon taken over by the rival Delaware and Bound Brook Railroad. The area near the station, the current Railroad Place, became a focus for related industries, including lumberyards, canneries, a creamery and a shirt factory. Throughout the village, new activities burgeoned; there was a hay press, a second lumberyard, a harness shop, two blacksmiths, three wheelwrights, five stores, a hotel, a saloon and a livery stable. In 1891, Hopewell Borough was incorporated and by 1900 the Borough had a population of roughly 890, living in about 208 households.
Second Calvary Baptist Church Cemetery, Hopewell Borough: Second Calvary Baptist Church was the first African American church in Hopewell Borough, founded in 1897. The lot on First St. was purchased that same year. A church building was constructed in 1898, and was originally known as The First Colored Calvary Church of Hopewell, NJ. The cemetery is located at this site, but the church was rebuilt in 1959 by African American carpenters John and Norman Jones (Skillman, NJ), which now stands at 69 Columbia Ave.
There are 8 headstones which represent 12 marked graves. Church history indicates that there are also 10 to 12 unmarked graves. Church members and their family were buried there as early as 1899 and the final burial was in 1954. Among those buried there are the first Pastor of Second Calvary, Reverend Thomas B. Johnson and his wife, Amanda (Jones).
Old School Baptist Church/Cemetery: The Old School Baptist Church and Cemetery on West Broad Street stand on the site of the original Hopewell Baptist Meeting House. Built in 1822, the current brick structure is also known as the First Baptist Church of Hopewell. The Baptist church constituted the center of the community in Hopewell’s early history, and is the burial site of John Hart, Hopewell resident and signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Train Station: Originally built for the long defunct Delaware and Bound Brook Railroad, around 1880. The station was used to accommodate passenger service, as well as local agriculture and lumber industries. No longer in service, the station now serves as a community center.
John Hart House (Private property): John Hart began acquiring property in 1740, buying the “homestead plantation” of 193 acres in Hopewell, and in the 1770’s he acquired land making him the largest land owner in Hopewell, with over 600 acres. On his prosperous plantation Hart had many cattle, sheep, swine, horses and fowl, and he also owned four slaves. The original part of his home was made of stone. The original small barn is still on the property which is now privately owned. The home stands on Hart Avenue in Hopewell, New Jersey.